The markets of the Asia-Pacific region are now much easier to enter due to the pandemic restrictions and lockdowns worldwide. And many online businesses are making use of this. If your company is among them, this article is just what the doctor ordered.
Like any other, the APAC market has its rules to be followed by market players. We are more than happy to help you get these rules sorted out.
APAC market: general overview
The Asia-Pacific region generally includes East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Oceania. Countries in the Asia-Pacific region are rapidly recovering from COVID-19. According to McKinsey, the total number of cases and deaths from coronavirus in the Asia-Pacific region was less than in other parts of the world. Therefore, many entrepreneurs have changed their plans and transferred their business from Europe to the APAC countries.
The APAC e-commerce market is one of the fastest-growing globally, making this region quite promising for business expansion. According to McKinsey, this region accounted for more than half of global Internet sales in 2017. And in 2020, the world’s middle class joined 1.4 billion people, 85% of whom live in the Asia-Pacific region.
An essential point to know before expanding to the APAC market: during the pandemic, the use of cash in Asia fell sharply, and the spread of contactless payments accelerated.
Specificity of the APAC market for businesses
This region is often considered to be a tough nut to crack due to several peculiarities. The two main are the fragmented payment landscape and the disjointed behaviour of the purchasers.
- Consumer behaviour. The APAC region comprises 48 countries, and each perceives goods and advertising in its own way. For instance, in Malaysia, people trust the influencers’ opinions, but Filipinos prefer to see customers’ reviews.
- Payment landscape. Although it would be convenient, the Asian market doesn’t have a single payment system that can be used across several countries. Moreover, bank cards are not the most popular payment method in many APAC countries. For example, virtual accounts are the most common in Indonesia, and purchasers from Thailand prefer cash transfers through the large networks Big C and Tesco.
- Restrictions. The laws in the Asia-Pacific countries vary greatly. Thus, gambling is completely banned in China, but the situation is reversed in Australia and the Philippines. To make a mark here, businesses have to compete with local casinos and bookmakers.
- Trending areas. E-sports were quite popular in the APAC region even before the epidemic. But the demand for mobile games has been actively growing in China and Southeast Asia countries since February 2020. Distance learning has also demonstrated its potential during isolation periods. Now the estimate of Asian EdTech has increased to $5 trillion. The digital technologies market is also trending: it is predicted to grow to $133 billion within four years.
APAC market countries & peculiarities
According to the World Bank economy ranking, the APAC market and the region itself are quite ambiguous. This ranking takes into consideration the loyalty of the regulatory environment to start and operate a local company. Certain countries favour starting new businesses or expanding the existing ones, and others presume certain challenges. We’ve compiled brief overviews of some countries' ranking numbers to set the scene for you.
Ranking number: 29th
91.8% of the Japanese population is urban. Consumers often tend to choose environmentally conscious brands but are not always ready to pay more for them.
- Buyers’ behaviour model. Quality consumption prevails over quantity here. Japanese consumers mainly watch videos and follow influencers’ opinions on products before buying. Also, nearly 3/4 of consumers inquire with social networks before purchasing, especially when it comes to cosmetics and fashion.
- Shopping trends. Japanese consumers are open to international. Products imported from countries perceived as “specialised”, such as Swiss watches or French wine, attract them.
- Preferred payment options. 53% of Japanese consumers prefer payment cards, 22% — e-wallets, and 16% go for bank transfers. The rest still pay with cash or prefer other payment methods.
Ranking number: 15th
The e-commerce industry in China can grow by at least another 15-20% because a third of the population does not have constant access to the Internet. Now the volume of online purchases in a country with a billion people is $1.2 trillion annually.
- Buyers’ behaviour model. Chinese consumers love bright and rich user interfaces. Many buttons and red colour on a landing page are welcome for localisation in the Chinese market.
- Shopping trends. China is the Asian cradle of esports: according to Statista, the country accounted for 19% of global industry earnings in 2019. Food delivery services are also popular.
- Preferred payment options. These are mostly AliPay and WeChatPay.
Ranking number: 14th
The region ranked tenth as the largest e-commerce market, with a revenue of $27 billion in 2020. 80% of the country’s residents make online purchases several times weekly and actively use instalment purchases.
- Buyers’ behaviour model. Australians treat online shopping with deliberate care: any decision they make is usually based on price and quality analysis. As long as domestic production does not always cover their needs, Australians got used to buying foreign products.
- Shopping trends. The demand for natural and organic products, especially fruits & vegetables, is growing annually in Australia. The country also has a large market for second-hand goods: the desire for savings stimulates the expansion of sharing services.
- Preferred payment options. The most widespread payment option among Australians is the POLi bank transfer system.
Ranking number: 73d
In Indonesia, most of the population outside the major cities do not have access to banking services because they do not even have an ID. However, the digitalisation of the economy and e-wallets allow people to deposit money on a virtual wallet or card. Moreover, 50% of the population is aged under 30 years old and actively uses smartphones, so the prospects are clear.
- Buyers’ behaviour model. Online trading outside Jakarta is still underdeveloped due to logistic issues. Indonesians also believe that national producers better understand their needs and take better care of customers, so they prefer local products and brands to foreign ones. Nevertheless, foreign companies have a chance: it is critical to fully localise the site and payment script to win the locals’ love.
- Shopping trends. Indonesians often use ride-hailing services (booking rides through a web browser or app) and food delivery services.
- Preferred payment options. Many payment transactions go through Doku virtual accounts. Both ATM cards and cash payments through the Alfamart supermarket are popular.
Ranking number: 12th
In Malaysia, more than 80% of the population uses the Internet. Residents of the country spend more on online shopping than in the Philippines and Thailand — over $6 billion annually.
- Buyers’ behaviour model. Social media influencers are the main authority and incentive to buy for Malaysians. With this in mind, companies invest a lot in the SMM promotion of their products.
- Shopping trends. Malaysians are willing to spend the most money on food delivery and entertainment, such as buying movies or amusement park tickets.
- Preferred payment options. Malaysians mostly use mobile payments — about 46% of payments are from local e-wallets, and only 29% are bank cards. Popular options are GrabPay, Touch ‘n Go, Mcash, and Boost.
Ranking number: 70th
This region’s economy is mostly based on agriculture. But since 2018, Vietnam has been experiencing growth due to exporting IT hardware, such as broadcasting equipment and mobile devices. The country’s economy is also actively growing due to the manufacturers, who moved their production from China to Vietnam due to the pandemic and US sanctions.
- Buyers’ behaviour model. Vietnamese often consider recommendations from friends and relatives, TV ads, and store promotions. But they are also actively adapting to digital channels and social networks.
- Shopping trends. The Vietnamese esports market is considered to be the largest in Asia after China. SaaS services are also popular.
- Preferred payment options. Vietnamese prefer ATM cards, QR banking, MoMo wallets, ViettelPay, and NganLuong.
Ranking number: 95th
The biggest part of the population here uses online shopping services. Its residents, on average, spend about $3.7 billion on online purchases during the year. Also, the local government actively welcomes foreign investments in the development of science and technology.
- Buyers’ behaviour model. The residents love with their eyes: a video review of a product or service is more likely to induce them to buy it than banner ads or aggressive social media targeting.
- Shopping trends. Video gaming is widespread throughout the country. At the same time, Filipinos are willing to pay more for products and services from socially responsible companies that care about public health and the environment.
- Preferred payment options. The predominant payment method here is cash, but people also use virtual initiatives such as Coins.ph, GCash, and Grabpay.
Ranking number: 1st
The New Zealand market is expected to grow: according to Statista Digital Market Outlook, the CAGR 2020-2024 is predicted to be 7%. Interesting fact — New Zealand has the lowest level of chargebacks in Asia-Pacific.
- Buyers’ behaviour model. More than half of New Zealanders seek information about interesting products and services online. Rural residents tend to buy online more than urban dwellers, so companies may be interested in targeting by location. At the same time, 69% of New Zealanders receive purchases at pick-up points in person, and only 19% use courier delivery.
- Shopping trends. The coronavirus epidemic has doubled online shopping in New Zealand, with the most popular categories now being apparel and beauty products. Also, local analysts predict an increase in demand for home appliances.
- Preferred payment options. POLi bank transfer system is widely used.
Ranking number: 21st
In Thailand, broadband and 5G networks cover even rural areas, so the volume of online purchases is impressive — about $4,14 billion annually.
- Buyers’ behaviour model. Thai residents tend to buy through social networks. A critical point for them is being in touch with customer support and receiving prompt responses from them.
- Shopping trends. Thai residents often order food and goods for their pets on the Internet.
- Preferred payment options. The most used options in Thailand are bank cards, cash transfers through Big C and Tesco supermarkets, online wallets TrueMoney, Line Pay, mPay, and state QR-banking ThaiQR.
Unless the regional trends and rules are followed, it will be difficult for your business to take root in the APAC region.
Entering several countries in the Asian market at once
While expanding to APAC, it’s essential to localise your business. It would help if you found a local expert, adapted your product or service to these regions, and wrote a sales scenario for each. Offering local acquiring may require additional costs. You’ll have to register a legal entity and create a company’s local branch in this case. If the business offers its clients only alternative payment methods, there is no need to register. Also, such companies will avoid chargebacks since they are not provided in case of payments via alternative payment methods.
Corefy allows you to avoid extra costs by using our solutions for scale-up businesses. A single integration with our platform enables your business to break new ground. It provides you with the possibility to connect multiple payment options, including local ones, in the APAC.
The Asian-Pacific market is promising, but businesses should enter it with caution since the region is characterised by heterogeneity in legislation, payment infrastructure, and financial behaviour. Our team is ready to help you choose the most suitable options for certain reasons based on the needs and goals of your business. Contact us to get more information and assistance from our experts.